Charles Tiffany was born in 1812 in Killingly, Connecticut. At the age of 15, he began to manage a small general store started by his father. At the age of 25, with a loan of $1,000 he received from his father, he opened a store with his friend John Young, whose sister he was dating and would later marry. The pair developed a reputation for selling only the finest quality goods and specialized in Bohemian glass and porcelain. The company was changed to Tiffany, Young & Ellis in 1941 after they brought on a partner, J.L. Ellis. Unlike any other store in the 1930s, Tiffany would clearly mark a price on every item to avoid haggling over prices and give birth to the 'price tag.' Legend has it that after their first three days in business, the store had brought in just $4.94 in sales.
In 1887, Charles Tiffany successfully purchased about one third of the French crown jewels when they were sold off after the collapse of the Second French Empire. One of his buyers, Thomas Banks, was coincidentally in Paris at the time, and Tiffany became the single largest buyer during the sale, which further raised his prominence and influence among wealthy European society. He purchased several famous stones, including some depicted in artwork having been worn by Queen Elizabeth I and Napoleon.
By the time of his death in 1902 at the age of 90, Charles Tiffany had transformed a $1,000 investment into a $35 million dollar fortune. At the time, that represented 1/616th of the entire United States GNP.